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Kensington Market

Last Updated: April 18, 2024 Toronto
Tripadvisor Rating 4/5
5 46
Google Rating 4.5/5
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avatar By Sam Baldwin
Get ready to explore the vibrant and eclectic neighborhood of Kensington Market in Toronto. Discover unique clothing stores and vintage shops, and immerse yourself in the bohemian atmosphere of this culturally diverse neighborhood.

Toronto, ON M5T 3K7, Canada

What?

Welcome to Kensington Market, a splash of colour and flavour right in the heart of Toronto, Ontario. Situated just west of Chinatown and nestled between Spadina Avenue and Bellevue, this densely packed neighbourhood is a national historic site of Canada (since November 2006).

Its narrow streets and lively atmosphere present a maze of food stores, bakeries, coffee spots, vintage clothing stores, and street art that’s as diverse as the city itself. This outdoor market has probably been photographed more often than any other site in Toronto. With each corner housing a new wave of cultural institutions, the streets aren’t just lanes, they’re stories waiting to be explored.

The Story

The history of Kensington Market dates back to 1815 when George Taylor Denison purchased the Bellevue Estate and, over the years, subdivided it into parts. By the 1850s to 1880s, rows of Victorian homes began to sprout, providing shelter to the incoming waves of immigrant communities. During the 1920s and 1930s, it predominantly became a Jewish neighbourhood, with many Jewish immigrants establishing dry goods and fresh produce stalls along Kensington streets.

The market area continued to evolve, welcoming a diverse range of communities, from Caribbean to East Asian, each infusing its unique flavour and identity into the fabric of the market. As time progressed, the unique neighbourhood transformed from a hub for immigrant communities to one of Toronto’s most well-known tourist attractions. From the upscale shops of Baldwin St to the bohemian flair of Kensington Ave to the vintage storefronts on Augusta Ave, it’s a vivid reflection of the city’s culturally diverse nature.

A shop's storefront with glass windows in Kensington MarketSource: https://openverse.org/image/6ad2dc30-2ca7-41ca-8b32-899d351a61d3

What Is Kensington Market Famous For?

Kensington Market is famous for its eclectic mix of shops, from hole-in-the-wall bakeries serving the fluffiest dumplings and the most scrumptious churros to the gritty clothing stores offering unique finds. The market is a haven for foodies, whether you’re craving jumbo empanadas, spicy Jamaican dishes, or a simple cafe dessert, Kensington has got you covered. Every corner of Kensington Market bursts with life, be it through live music sessions or its celebrated Pedestrian Sundays.

Held on the last Sunday of every month from May to October, this event sees Kensington roads closed off to vehicles, allowing street performances, outdoor shops, and vibrant street art to take over. Another highlight of this neighborhood is Bellevue Square Park, a serene escape right in the middle of the bustling market. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon a garden car or find the Kiever Synagogue, a remnant of the area’s Jewish history, just around the corner.

Did You Know? 

How To Get There?

You can take a 1-minute walk at Dundas St West at Denison Ave to reach the closest station to get there:

Bus: 13B, 19, 26, 510C, 7, 94A, 97B

Train: BR Subway: 1, 2

Streetcar: 505, 506, 510A, 510B

Tibet Cafe in Kensington Market behind a post with signsSource: https://openverse.org/image/b40fbfb1-04ed-4cbb-b1ce-0b5317f0ba9c

Nearest Parking and Cost

Kensington Market Garage (Municipal Carpark 68) offers C$6 for 2 hours parking.

Nearby Attractions – Make A Day Of It!

Heading to Kensington Market in Toronto? Make sure to explore these nearby attractions:

Pedestrians cross the street in a Chinatown in TorontoSource: https://openverse.org/image/8cdfa4db-5bcc-4eb4-a6d3-6f47e807471c

Chinatown

Chinatown in Toronto, located near Kensington Market, is a vibrant neighborhood known for its bustling markets, diverse food scene, and colorful shops selling a variety of Asian goods.

Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario, located near Kensington Market in Toronto, is a renowned art museum showcasing over 90,000 works of art, including significant collections of Canadian, Indigenous, European, contemporary, and African art.

Top 3 Closest Hidden Gems – Recommended By Adventure Clues

Destination Distance
Allan Gardens Conservatory 2.7 km
Amsterdam Brewhouse 2.8 km
Balzac’s Coffee 3.5 km

Your Hidden Gems Itinerary

  1. Start your day at Kensington Market. 
  2. Take a leisurely walk to Allan Gardens Conservatory. Depending on your preference, you can use a bicycle for a pleasant ride or opt for a taxi or Uber for a quick and comfortable trip.
  3. Head to Amsterdam Brewhouse for a change of scenery. Use public transit, specifically the streetcar, for a convenient and relaxed journey.
  4. Conclude your day at Balzac’s Coffee to start the day with a warm beverage and the local atmosphere.

Toronto boasts several hidden gems, and exploring Kensington Market, Balzac’s Coffee, Amsterdam Brewhouse, and Allan Gardens Conservatory offers a diverse experience. From the bustling market to cozy cafes and serene botanical gardens, each location provides a unique facet of the city’s charm. Enjoy your day in Toronto, immersing yourself in the distinctive atmosphere of each hidden gem.

Best Eateries Around

Explore these top-rated eateries near Kensington Market:

front view of The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles eatery with transparent glass wallSource: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipNBAJLYYigzi9607-UszEMK-zUmdYO48D_l1qDD=s680-w680-h510

The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles

The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles is a popular eatery in Toronto, near Kensington Market, known for its delicious and unique combination of crispy, flavorful fried chicken and fluffy, sweet waffles.

The Burgernator

The Burgernator is a popular, military-themed burger joint in Toronto, known for its creative and delicious gourmet burgers, located near the vibrant Kensington Market.

Entry Price

Kensington Market is free to go and visit.

Final Thoughts

Kensington Market, with its rich history, vibrant street art, and diverse culinary and shopping experiences, stands as a testament to Toronto’s multicultural tapestry and enduring spirit.

Explore the charm of Toronto. Join Toronto Scavenger Hunts by Adventure Clues and reveal the city’s unseen marvels.

Kensington Market FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the city’s vibrant Kensington Market.

1. What is Kensington Market?

Kensington Market is a distinctive, multicultural neighbourhood in Canada’s downtown Toronto. Renowned for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and cafes, this bustling outdoor market has probably been photographed and admired by thousands of people, locals and tourists alike. Lying west of Chinatown and bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street, and College Street, Kensington Market’s vibrant atmosphere and distinctive character make it a must-visit attraction and site in Toronto for any grocer or tourist.

2. What is unique about Kensington Market?

One of Toronto’s most beloved neighbourhoods, Kensington Market brings a mix of cultures, cuisines and commodities that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. The market has an eclectic flair, with many cafes, bakeries, and food stores presenting a world of cuisines, while the narrow streets of Kensington bustle with live music, outdoor stalls, and street art. It’s not just a perfect place in Toronto – it’s an experience.

3. How did Kensington Market start?

Welcome to Kensington Market! This diverse neighbourhood started as a Jewish market around the start of the 20th century. As time went on, waves of immigrants from different parts of the world, from Southern Europe to the Caribbean and beyond, settled in and added their own cultural flavours to the market area, enhancing its variety and vibrancy.

4. What are Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market?

Pedestrian Sundays is a monthly event taking place in Kensington Market on the Last Sunday of every month from May to October. It is a day when the bustling streets of Kensington are closed off to cars, transforming the area into a lively pedestrian zone filled with music, performers, food stalls, and happy crowds.

5. Where are the best cafes in Kensington Market?

There are many amazing cafes dotted around Kensington Market. You can find artisanal coffee shops and cosy bakeries nestled within the market’s narrow streets. Some of the most popular cafes can be found along Baldwin St and Augusta Ave.

6. Where is Kensington Market located?

Kensington Market is situated in the heart of Toronto, within the city’s most well-known and vibrant downtown area. To be more specific, it lies west of Chinatown and is bordered by Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West to the south.

7. Where can I get the best tacos in Kensington Market?

One of the best places to get tacos in Kensington Market is Yvonne’s Place on Andrew Street. Yvonne’s has been serving delicious tacos since 1971, and they’re still going strong. They offer a variety of fillings, including chicken, beef, and fish, and their tacos are always made fresh to order.

Sources

https://kensingtonmarket.to/about/

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/kensington-market

https://moovitapp.com/index/en/public_transit-Kensington_Market-Toronto_ON-site_7405474-143

https://en.parkopedia.ca/parking/parkade/kensington_market_garage_municipal_carpark_68/m5t/toronto/

https://ago.ca/

https://www.thedirtybird.ca/

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